As a substitute for in-person programming, we’re offering a series of posts on starting a vegetable garden. This science-based information comes from the Seed to Supper program, developed by the Oregon Food Bank. During these difficult times, the Oregon Food Bank welcomes your donations.
OSU is also offering its vegetable gardening class online .
When is the best time to deal with disease and other plant problems? Before you put anything in the ground!
Start with healthy soil and healthy plants. Healthy plants have fewer problems. Protect your plants by giving them what they need: sunlight, water, air, and nutrients.
Choose disease-resistant plant varieties. Check seed catalogs and seed packets to see which varieties are resistant.
When problems do arise, don’t automatically blame pests and disease. Most problems are caused by human error, such as planting in the wrong spot, overwatering, or not using enough fertilizer. Even something as simple as a cat running through the garden or pesticide drifting from a neighbor’s yard can also cause problems that you might think are being caused by an insect or disease.
You’ll enjoy gardening more if you set a tolerance level by deciding how much damage you can live with. A few holes in the leaves don’t mean the whole plant is going to die. You might come to see a few holes as a sign of your garden’s healthy ecosystem.
To assess whether your plants are diseased, consult the online PNW Plant Disease Handbook. If you suspect a fungal disease, neem oil is an effective, safe and environmentally friendly fungicide. It’s minimally toxic and safe to use on food gardens. Neem oil is good for managing fungus on tomatoes and melons, and smothering soft-bodied insects like aphids, mites and white flies.
Next up: Succession planting